My Great Aunt’s Lesson: Charitable Gift Annuity for the Middle Class Donor

Great Aunt with a piggy bankYou may have noticed that I don’t write about planned giving very often. In part, that is because it is not our main business – we help clients create planned giving opportunities and aide in planned giving “asks,” but we have rarely, if ever, been engaged just to focus on planned giving. The other reason for the lack of posts on the subject is because I did not know anyone who had made a charitable gift annuity or charitable lead trust years before and was willing to share their experiences with someone who is not a peer…until a couple of months ago.

I was at a family gathering when an older relative told me that she sustains her lifestyle thanks to a charitable gift annuity she created years ago and how grateful she is that she did it. Only then did it occur to me that she is really the ideal candidate for this type of gift.

In fact, I now understand one aspect of planned giving that never even crossed my mind. Middle and Upper Middle Class individuals or couples with some stock in the market – outside of retirement or funds – often don’t know when to sell. They do not have a portfolio that is large enough to encourage interest from a professional so their investments sit untouched for years.

Maybe they inherited the stock. Maybe someone convinced them that they should buy Apple stock in the ‘90s.   Maybe they or a spouse earned stock benefits at a job. Over time the stock becomes worth $30,000, $100,000 or even more. What a great investment!

But how do they turn the investment into income once retired? Will they have to pay the dreaded capital gains if they sell it? Is now even a good time to sell it? What if it will keep going up and they could earn more in two years? If they sold now, could they invest it at a better rate than leaving it be?

The truth is most people have to trust someone else’s advice when it comes to the stock market and few people know who is trustworthy and who is going to scam them. It is easier to leave it in the market until they have to sell or bequeath it to their heirs.

A Charitable Gift Annuity for the middle class donor can be the perfect solution. The organization that you love and trust will take a gift of the stock in exchange for a regular payment schedule direct to your bank account. You increase your income in a substantial way that is guaranteed not to run out no matter how long you live. By creating a charitable gift annuity, my great aunt created a pension for herself.

My great aunt told me that getting rid of her husband’s stock was one of the best things she ever did. When you consider that she is over 80 – that is impressive enough to write about.

If you want to learn more about how to create a charitable gift annuity program and other planned giving vehicles, email David A. Mersky at to make an appointment for a phone consultation. A few minutes invested on the phone with David may yield thousands and thousands of dollars for your organization in the future. And, at the same time you will do a huge favor by alleviating some of your valued donors’ anxieties about outliving their assets.

Interested in more articles on Planned Giving from Mersky, Jaffe & Associates? David wrote a year-long series on the topic including:

The Five Words That Really Excite Donors

Funding Tuition Through Planned Giving

Interest Rates and Fixed Incomes